Flat Rolls and Skills



I get that skills in C&S represent something that is more than the “common person” can do (or at least have a chance at doing). And it seems like flat rolls are the way to check whether the common person succeeds or fails at a given task. So what do you do when there’s a test that a common person can do and you have a PC in the party with a relevant skill and a PC without? I would think the PC with the skill should have better odds than the PC without. Example:

There’s a stream of acid that is jumpable by the common person. And let’s say it’s a default flat roll to do it (roll 6 or under). But one PC has a Jump skill of 9.

I can think of a few ways to handle this, what would you do?

  1. All PCs without the skill roll the flat roll of 6 and the skilled PC roll 9
  2. Let the skilled PC add their skill so that they can roll 15 or under?
  3. Just give the skilled PC a fixed bonus, say +5, just for having the skill (regardless of what the skill value actually is). So they’d have to roll 11 or under.
  4. Just assign a one time situational bonus to the skilled PC, totally based on common sense ruling
  5. Rule that since this is just a common task, the PC’s skill doesn’t apply.
  6. Something else…

Now then, same question but what if the flat roll was something like a 12, and the skilled PC only had a 6 in the relevant skill?

Bonus points question: Does any of this change for an opposed roll instead of a flat roll?

Skills and Flat rolls

Good questions, I’m interested to read what someone with more knowledge has to say. My thoughts would be

All PC’s without the skill roll flat and the skilled rolls based on their Skill modifier.

I know in ICRPG the GM sets target numbers but I don’t think that is the case in C&S. I could be wrong. So if I am correct the GM may modify the skill check by saying it is “easy” or “hard” and tell you how to adjust your roll but it would be the same as above.

I’m curious how opposed rolls work as well. My guess is make a skill check. If both fail the struggle would be unresolved and both would roll again next round, like tug of war. If both succeed whomever succeeds by more wins.


Let me a pitch a scenario:

The party finds a 5ft gap in the trail. Alex has the Jump Skill; Dennis, Chuck, and X do not. This a jump unskilled folks could make. Alex is skilled so I would let him pass with no roll. The others I would give a Flat Roll to make it, the gap is small enough that they have an unskilled chance.

Now it’s a 15ft gap. Alex rolls Jump because this gap is large enough you need to be skilled. Dennis, Chuck, and X have no chance to make it at all, not even a Flat Roll. They just can’t do it without the Skill. Time to find a different way around or hope that someone has rope.

In C&S you can and should come across situations that just can’t be done without knowing the skill. Like a massive chunk of stone blocking a door cannot be moved without the Muscle Skill, but kicking open a stuck door could be a Flat Roll for the unskilled. Hope that helps.


Yeah that’s an interesting way to handle it: when a “common roll” is possible, those with a relevant skill get an auto success. And then the skill value is only relevant when a common roll isn’t possible. I like that, thanks!


I believe the flat roll is selected by the GM (it just defaults to 6), and there’s a bit about modifiers to that roll as well (I’ll look for it again later). But I could totally be mistaken, hehe. Maybe someone else can confirm or deny (before I get back to my PDF). Thanks for the input!


Thinking about skills, here is a question. When building a characters with points you can take a skill and put only 3 points into it, giving you a value of 3. You are then trained in the skill but at a very low level. So if everyone is told they need to make a check using that skill, would you have to roll a 3 or less where an unskilled character would use the default of 6 giving them a better chance of making the roll?


Yeah I’m right there with ya. That’s what I was trying to indicate in my original question:

But I think @JDStirling’s suggestion solves that case as well because if it’s a common roll, then the skilled PC doesn’t need to roll at all. They just auto succeed. And in the case where only a skilled PC can even attempt the roll, then it balances out because the unskilled PC can’t even attempt it.


I’m starting to get that feeling as well. If you are skilled you don’t have to roll only those unskilled. Otherwise only those that are skilled can check and if you don’t have it you auto fail / can’t do it.


I was kinda spitballing the scenario, hehe. You’ll be rolling against your skills plenty during play. Plus depending on the scene and the environment there’s all manner of complications that could add penalties to a roll.

That same 15ft jump in a combat encounter might give Alex a -5 penalty to his Skill roll. These things all kinda click into place at the table when the dice start rolling.


This page from the Player’s Guide gives a lot of great info that should also help with some insight. :shield:


OK so a Flat Roll is it’s own kind of check. That helps.


I haven’t played any Crown and Skull yet, so I may be totally off base here but…

I was in the headspace that if there was a need to call for a flat roll for a given (common) task (jumping over the creek) that the skilled player could just add his skill points to the roll under value i.e. flat roll of 6 +3 = roll under 9) but if it were a skilled roll attempt (15 ft. Wide gap) he would have to roll under 3 for his skilled level but the unskilled characters couldn’t even try.

In my head, this allows for the skill to still be in play, recognizes the difference between skilled and unskilled characters, and still allows for the off chance of failure by the skilled player.

But again, I could be totally off here.


Yeah I think that’s valid as well, though it gets a little wonky as the target number and skill level gets higher. For example, target number of 15 (super easy task) and skill of 10, for a total of 25. I think you could just cap it at something like 18, of course, but then the skilled player is getting less mileage for their hard earned skill points. So I dunno, I get that the rules are trying to stay pretty loose and flexible, but I just wish they were a tad bit more defined in some places. Or maybe more examples would help.


Skills are already capped at 18, so that would definitely work for a limit. I’m thinking that at some point, possibly even below the 18, it’s just an automatic success at the roll. Unless there is something interesting about the possibility of failure for that particular player…


You should note that the purpose of Skills is to allow the characters to do things that normal people couldn’t do without said skill or training. In Addition to this, it is to force the players to remember and choose when and how to use their skills (It’s the players’ responsibility, as the GM is doing other things [design philosophy of C&S]).

The GM would set up a situation:

The Creek is wider than anticipated and the water is rushing. This cannot be crossed. What do you do?

At this point, the players would interact with the world and situation by asking questions and seeing if they have the right equipment or find another way around. HOWEVER, the Thief Gero has Rope and the Jumping Skill! The burden is on the player to say:

My thief has trained for this situation! I roll my Jumping skill to leap across and use the rope to make it possible for my comrades to make it across, unharmed!

The GM will approve and then allow the roll.

If there were no one with the appropriate skill, the situation would have to be changed via roleplaying to allow the characters to cross.

Now, if the situation was set up by the GM as:

You see a rushing creek. It is rough, but you should be able to pass if you jump on the rocks properly. Everyone, roll 9 or below to see if you can make it across safely!

Thief Gero can point out and say:

I’m trained in Jumping. If everyone can make it with a Flat Roll, Gero would not break a sweat!


You’re right! You effortlessly jump across and look at your friends with your Signature “Smug” look.


Thank you! This an excellent example and kind of what I settled on as how I’d run things at the table. I’m starting to get the feeling that C&S functions more like an “OSR style” game. Which makes sense given some of the inspirations Hank mentioned. I just couldn’t put that together initially. Thanks for the confirmation!


Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Though, I would say that I’m kinda torn on the idea that just because someone has spent 3 hero points on a skill means they automatically succeed where someone with 0 points in the skill wouldn’t. I’m sure during actual play it works better than it does in my head though.


I would argue that it’s like having the right weapon or tool for the job with hero points then being wholely unequipped.

It’s not a comparison of 0 to 3 being only three units apart, but rather an impossible situation to now a 15% OR something mundanes can try and do to you having the right training.

If you are REALLY NOT able to grok with what I’m serving up, then skills lose their strength and worth in investment. Perhaps a middle ground would be to take the Flat Roll difficulty+ (skill x2). So even 3 in jump now has a 12 when everyone else has only 6.

Some brew for thought :beers: :thinking:


Yeah this was the wonky math that I decided just wasn’t worth it. If you start on this path, you have to think about what happens when flat rolls target is high, something like 16. If 18 is the max, then benefit of skill is greatly diminished (cuz you only get 2 or 10% worth extra benefit). I can set an argument for how even that is a benefit, but it seems not worth the hero points. And honestly, too much bookkeeping, hehe. So I like the simplicity and spirit of an auto success for a character with a skill that is attempting a flat roll.

I also kinda think “Skills” is an unfortunate name for these things. The more I think about them, the more I think they operate like “Special Abilities”. “Skills” just has soooo much history in so many other games, and I think they represent something different in C&S. Or at least, as I’m coming to understand C&S. I’m still pretty new to it. :slightly_smiling_face:


The name “skills” does have baggage from other games and I can see why this is causing confusion. Runehammer stated that since there are no stats, this is the only way to tell you if you are able to do something, making it so only characters with proper investments can do said things (oratory or muscle).